CHK Continues Employee Cuts

Chesapeake Energy just opened its office at Fox Commerce Park earlier this year, but the Ohio Valley’s largest active natural gas driller is cutting hundreds of workers throughout the country.

Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake has issued a federal Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification Act notice with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to eliminate 60 jobs from its Uniontown, Ohio office.

“The past few months have been very challenging as we have evaluated the competitiveness of the company,” said Doug Lawler, chief executive officer, in a letter to the workers who are being relieved of their duties. Lawler has been cutting jobs at the company since August.

Chesapeake remains the most active natural gas driller in northern West Virginia, and it is the only company with horizontal Marcellus Shale wells in Ohio, Brooke and Hancock counties. Over the past few years, former chief executive officer Aubrey McClendon took a 2.5-percent personal interest in Chesapeake’s operations in Brooke, Ohio, Marshall and Wetzel counties.

This left some investors concerned because Chesapeake is a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange, while McClendon’s firms – Larchmont Resources and Jamestown Resources – are his own private businesses.

McClendon has since started his own firm known as American Energy Partners, which is acquiring acreage to drill in Ohio’s Utica Shale.

Other financial analysts believed Chesapeake simply overextended its reach, depending on assets that were not valued as highly as the company originally believed when it acquired them.

In addition to the Ohio layoffs, which are scheduled to begin Dec. 9, Chesapeake has laid off most of its public relations employees who had been working in the Upper Ohio Valley.

“We will position Chesapeake to be a sustainable, enduring enterprise, and provide the basis to achieve the leadership role in the exploration and production business that this company can deliver,” Lawler said. “By scaling exploration and production support services, reducing management layers and aligning resources with a sharpened focus on accountability and efficiency, we have created a business built to deliver a sustainable and profitable future.”

Those employees losing their jobs worked in various fields for Chesapeake, including land acquisition, operations, information technology, human resources, legal, facilities, finance and accounting.

“I am very excited about the future for Chesapeake, as we are a healthy, strong and resilient company that is poised to grow for decades to come,” Lawler said.